The 10 Best X-Men Games Of All Time (2024)

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The 10 Best X-Men Games Of All Time (1)

You wouldn’t know it looking at Marvel’s video game output over the past decade or so, but the X-Men have a long and storied history in the medium. There are certainly some duds like The Uncanny X-Men on the NES from 1989, but by and large, the mutant team has been the star of some pretty important moments in Marvel’s interactive offerings.

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A Wolverine game is on the way from Spider-Man developer Insomniac Games, and the studio has exclusive rights to the heroes for the next decade.The future looks bright for the X-Men, but let’s look back at some of the best games from their past.

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X-Men: Mutant Academy 1/2/Next Dimension

X-Men: Mutant Academy 1/2/Next Dimension

Professor X’s gifted youngsters have been in several fighting games over the years. X-Men: Mutant Academy and its sequels weren’t the first time a developer put two mutants on opposing sides of a screen, but it is, perhaps, the best one in which the X-Men weren’t sharing the spotlight with someone else.

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The first Mutant Academy was mostly a tie-in for the 2000 X-Men movie, but the sequel doubled the roster and included some wild picks, like the wheelchair-using Professor X in one of his rare playable appearances. 2002's Next Dimension was quite a step forward with more characters (though Professor X did not return, unfortunately), interactable 3D maps, and a story mode to make it a more robust, feature-complete fighting game. The X-Men have shown up in other fighting games like Marvel vs. Capcom (though Infinite notably didn’t include them, or any other Marvel superheroes that were part of rights disputes at the time), but the Mutant Academy games are a reminder that they don’t have to be in a crossover with anyone else. These characters make up a stunning fighting roster all by themselves.

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X-Men Legends/II: Rise of Apocalypse

X-Men Legends/II: Rise of Apocalypse

The Legends games were an X-Men fan’s dream in the mid-2000s because they captured that special feeling where you and your friends play together as the titular group teaming up to overcome something no one person can defeat on their own. The action RPGs let up to four players play through a high-stakes X-Men story full of twists, turns, and a sizable roster of heroes and villains. The beat-em-up style combat is pretty rote by today’s standards, but each character had their own unique powers, so that playing as Wolverine felt distinct from playing as Magneto. Though the second game ended on a cliffhanger, we unfortunately never got a third game. Legends and Rise of Apocalypse understood that the appeal of a superhero game with as vast and varied a team as the X-Men is always how they differentiate themselves from one another, but still forma cohesive unit. Not many games capture that feeling like Legends.

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X-Men Origins: Wolverine

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

The X-Men Origins: Wolverine game has no right to be as good as it is. Not only was it a movie tie-in in the midst of the flood of bad licensed games getting churned out to capitalize on popular films, it’s also based on what is arguably the worst film in the X-Men film franchise (and those movies have a few stinkers). The Origins: Wolverine game, though, is a blast. Though it lacks the same depth as other character action games of the era, such as Devil May Cry, Raven Software’s take on Logan’s origin story has over-the-top style, frenetic combat, and a viciousness you don’t often find in Marvel games. There’s even an M-rated “Uncaged Version” that ups the gore to something you’d expect, considering Wolverine can just tear dudes to shreds. It kinda rules.

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X-Men vs. Street Fighter

X-Men vs. Street Fighter

Everyone knows the Marvel vs. Capcom franchise, but the Vs. branding began with X-Men vs. Street Fighter in 1996. Sure, its roster isn’t as expansive, but it’s still a pretty impressive fighter that acted as launch pad for some of the best games in the genre. The 2D fighter draws from Capcom’s iconic fighting series, but also riffs on Street Fighter’s core concepts like letting you tag in a secondary character. This was the basis for the Vs. games that would follow and were far less restrained by X-Men vs. Street Fighter’s parameters, but even so, it’s still a great fighting game with gorgeous sprite work that holds up to this day.

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X-Men (1992)

X-Men (1992)

When it came to vibrant, appealing arcade beat-em-ups in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, Konami absolutely dominated the scene. While the company’s TMNT games and 1991’s The Simpsons are perhaps the most widely remembered today, for my money, nothing can top the sheer spectacle and excitement of 1992’s X-Men. Sure, the TMNT games and The Simpsons let you and three friends clobber enemies to your heart’s content, but X-Men arcade came in two variations: a standard four-player cabinet, and a deluxe, widescreen option that let all six of its playable characters tackle Magneto’s forces at once. The six-player support allowed for considerably more onscreen mayhem, and boy, did the game’s wonderfully vivid visuals benefit from all the extra real estate the widescreen effect afforded. Even in a busy arcade in 1992 that was packed with games like Mortal Kombat and Street Fighter II Turbo, this bad boy stood out from the crowd.

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By today’s standards, the gameplay may seem a bit on the simple side, but “simple” was not a bad thing when you and some buddies just wanted to hop into a game and enjoy slashing baddies as Wolverine or flinging tornadoes at them as Storm. The colorful, detailed graphics made it all look like a cartoon, and who could ever forget when Magneto, self-proclaimed “master of magnet,” struck fear into the hearts of players by declaring, “X-Men, welcome…to DIE!”? I kid, but X-Men really was a spectacular beat-em-up that made great use of its source material.

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X-Men: Children of the Atom

X-Men: Children of the Atom

It’s wild to think about how Marvel vs. Capcom Infinite tossed the X-Men out the window when looking through Capcom’s Marvel fighting game history. X-Men: Children of the Atom is often forgotten when talking about Marvel and Capcom’s relationship over the years. It’s a shame because before there were any Vs. games, there was this 1994 fighting game. X-Men: Children of the Atom was the first fighting game Capcom made that featured Marvel characters, and it was loosely tied into the X-Men animated series from the ‘90s that’s getting a second wind with X-Men ‘97.

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Capcom put what it had learned from Street Fighter into a solid X-Men fighting game that still looks slick today. The 2D sprites and animation are on-par with some modern sprite-based fighters, and its roster is so well-realized it’s like they’re coming right off a comic book page.

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X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse

X-Men: Mutant Apocalypse

X-Men Mutant Apocalypse is one of the more limited X-Men games in terms of who you can play, but the beat-em-up was a triumph for the series on the SNES. It includes different missions for each of its playable characters, all of whom have different abilities, objectives, and challenges to overcome. Its mix of platforming and tough-as-nails make up for its relatively short runtime, and for the time, it was one of the strongest summations of the X-Men that had been put to a game cartridge.

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Looking back, it’s all-too-apparent Marvel hasn’t given the X-Men a lot of video game love in the past decade. Though they’ve made appearances in games like Midnight Suns, the team is due for a starring role soon. Luckily, at least one of them will get the spotlight when Insomniac’s Wolverine comes to PlayStation 5.

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The 10 Best X-Men Games Of All Time (2024)
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